Photos by Larry Edsall
Like so many classic car hobbyists, members of the Arizona Street Rod Association are concerned about the future, about whether the next generation will see their cherished vehicles as rolling works of art meant to be enjoyed or as having value only as a source for steel, aluminum and other materials that can be recycled.
To help introduce high school students to the hobby, the street rodders staged a Young and Old Times Car Show one recent weekend in the parking lot at the East Valley Institute of Technology, a magnet school in Mesa, Ariz., that offers career training in everything from auto technology to video production, cosmetology to culinary arts, and firefighting to pharmacy technician studies to students from dozens of Phoenix-area high schools.
With plenty of other events taking place the same day and with the street in front of the school torn up for the installation of public-transit tracks, it wasn’t easy to maneuver vintage or any other kind of vehicles into the lot. Plus, said street rodders secretary Dave Eagleburger, “by this time all the winter visitors are gone home.”
Still, some 80 vehicles — many of them spectacular — were on display and competing for trophies hand-made by EVIT students.
“Most of the cars were from us old guys,” Eagleburger said. However, students took home three of the trophies, and the event did what it set out to do — raise some money for the school’s auto-technician training program.
“We would have preferred to have gotten more of the high school students there,” he said. “We would like to cultivate more younger ‘hot rod’ guys, more students involved in what I call car showing and shining and building them and driving them.
“It really doesn’t matter what kind of car it is,” he added, noting that while the old timers may prefer ’32 Ford roadsters and such, what he sees as important isn’t the age of the vehicle but the effort to “make what they drive more unique than what you can buy from the car store.”
Despite the turnout, “it was a good start,” Eagleburger said. “It was like playing in a band. The first time you get together, it’s not very tight. We hope that next time we can tighten it up and make it more festive.”
Obviously, the Arizona rodders aren’t the only group of graybeards working to spread the word to the next generation about the joy of the custom car hobby. If your group has found a successful way to do that, please use the comment box below to share the details.